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Colin on youth watch

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Colin Calderwood will be taking more than a passing interest in the fortunes of our Academy under-18 side that tackle Everton in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-final at Goodison Park on Wednesday.

In fact, he will be taking careful note, as about ten of Pat Holland's squad will form the nucleas of his reserve team pool next season.

The Scot has been keeping check on their progress in the Youth Cup as they triumphed at Walsall, Bolton and Leeds, before overcoming Blackburn at the Lane in the quarter-finals.

"The vast majority of them are coming up to train with the first team squad and me next year," reports Colin.

"I've seen every game that they've played in the Youth Cup this year and had six or seven of them at different times during pre-season and reserve games.

"As always, you've got to go and see the boys, monitor them and see how they're doing. You can't just expect a report off the website to tell you the truth! You've got to look at it with your own eyes and make your own judgements.

"The best way to assess people is watching them yourself. So there is an added interest for me and they've done well so far.

"It would be nice if we can continue in that way but, as with everything, it's just a progression to hopefully get into a bigger and stronger pool - which is the first team squad."

What will make next season so special for Colin is that he will have a proper squad to work with on a daily basis and will be able to groom the youngsters in readiness for hopefully the next step.

The fact that they all know each other so well, play as a team and have shone in the competitive arena of the Youth Cup is an added bonus for the former central defender who returned to the club at the beginning of the season.

"That's absolutely spot on," agreed Colin. "What they do give, and they certainly gave against Blackburn, is 100 per cent in every challenge, they are pretty athletic in covering the pitch, didn't shirk anything and put Blackburn under a lot of pressure.

"Hopefully the pitch at Everton will be a bit better than it is at White Hart Lane at the minute and that will improve how they do on the ball.

"At the end of the day, when you get to this stage, results are probably more important than performances. The performances were very good in this competition and now you try and drill into them the mental side of it and the desire they must have to scrape results out.

"They've done that and had a good season."

The boys certainly have no fear when in comes to playing at the big venues, as proved at the Reebok Stadium and Elland Road. Colin feels it is actually a help to be playing away without the expectation the comes with playing on the home stage.

"I think it's easier to go away from home in all these competitions. There is added pressure when you play at home and I think last time was the first time many of them had played at White Hart Lane.

"It was a little bit nervous to start with, but they did well, came through and got the victory and, as I say, they've got a real togetherness.

"They have a go at one another in the right manner when things don't go right. It's not as if they're all schoolboys and they go about it physically and they're athletic with ability on the ball as well. They're doing okay!

"We hope to see that come out against Everton and it would be a good thing for them individually and not a bad thing for the club if they get through to the final. You just know within that group that there is a good spirit and they have that desire.

"They have that mental toughness if things aren't going as they want it, they've got stickability and are in the game right until the end."

Looking ahead to next season, Colin admits that it is slightly unusual for so many players to graduate through the ranks at the same time and points to the structure of the club as a benefit to the youngsters.

"I think it's happened on rare occasions. It doesn't happen much throughout the league. You hear of other clubs bringing through two, three or four.

"The good thing is that they've been playing at under-19 level, but they're basically an under-18 side. They've always been pushed a little bit beyond themselves and that's how its got to be.

"If we want to promote them to the first team group, they've got to be not just with their own age group.

"All the third years that have been with me this season, like John Jackson, have been through the Academy and it's a good philosophy. It's not a bad way to run the Academy, that you don't have them languishing in it for three years. If they're there for that long they don't often make the grade unless they are a rare late developer.

"As a whole you would want them pushing on in their second year to play reserve games. It's the way it's been for them, it's given them the opportunity early to play reserve team football.

"It is how it was before, years ago. If you did well in the youth team you would play reserves and were pushed on. Although this structure is better and has created an environment that monitors them and looks after them, for them to acheive anything in the game they've got to look to be getting out of that - even in their second year.

"They've got the ideal vehicle here, the way the club is set up and the structure of it. If they do well they will get pushed on."

By Richard Hubbard